"My siblings and I do not have a father. We do not know where he is," says Madaba.
A 13-year-old boy walked from Sironko district to the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo to pray for his father he hasn't seen for five years.
Richard Madaba, a Primary Six pupil at Salalira Primary School in Sironko, is troubled by the absence of a father figure in his life.
He last saw his father when he was eight. But his two younger siblings have never seen him and are always asking their family about his whereabouts.
Unfortunately, such recurrent questions receive the same response. No-one knows where Madaba’s father is.
But the teenage boy is still hopeful he will one day reunite with his lost dad.
‘I miss the fatherly love’
And so when a group of more than 30 pilgrims started their pilgrimage from Sironko district in eastern Uganda on May 25, Madaba joined them.
He wanted the Uganda Martyrs to intercede for him so that his father returns home.
"My siblings and I do not have a father. We do not know where he is. I last saw him when I was eight years old. He left us when we were still very young.
“I yearn for his return, I miss the fatherly love and we want him to return because he is our dad,” said Madaba.
He was among thousands of Christian pilgrims who made it to Namugongo for the annual Martyrs’ Day celebrations. This year’s event was organized by the diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana.
"I decided to walk with other pilgrims to Namugongo to ask the Uganda Martyrs, especially St. Kizito Lwanga – a saint for children – to intercede in our situation and through prayer, I believe one day, our father will come back to us.
“I will continue coming to Namungongo until God answers my special prayer. I also came to pray that I continue to perform well in my studies,” added Madaba, who hopes to complete his primary education next year.
He and his siblings are under the care of their grandparents. Their mother lives and works in Kampala and although she only goes to see them in December during the Christmas season, she constantly supports them together with the grandparents and they are all in school, he said.
One of the elders that came with Madaba said the boy is an energetic, prayerful young man who knows what he came for and was the youngest in their group.